9 Dec 2010

Calls for debate over seal culling in Kaikoura

8:47 am on 9 December 2010

Members of the Kaikoura community are calling for more discussion about whether seal numbers in the area should be culled.

Twenty-three protected New Zealand fur seals were found bludgeoned at Ohau Point breeding colony north of the town this week.

The president of the Kaikoura boating club, Ted Howard, says seal numbers have increased dramatically over the past 20 years to about 10,000 along the area's coast.

He says the seals eat a variety of fish and make it difficult for fishers to navigate on the water - as they are forbidden from coming within three metres of the animals.

But the manager of Seal Swim Kaikoura, Matt Chambers, says seals mainly eat lantern fish - which aren't sought after by anglers.

The district's mayor, Winston Gray, says it is time for an open debate and the council may play a role in organising that.